“Soy puro Pinolero; ¡Nicaragüense por gracia de Dios!” (I´m a pure Pinolero; Nicaraguan by the grace of God!) – Tino López Guerra
The words of this famous Nicaraguan song show just how close Pinolillo is to the heart of Nicaraguans and their national identity. Pinolillo is a traditional drink made of corn and cocoa mixed with milk or water. A bit gritty, a bit sweet and a bit…well corny, I was surprised at how tasty this concoction was.
Pinolillo has been enjoyed in Nicaragua for centuries. Once thought to be the drink of the gods, it is traditionally served in a cup carved from the shell of the Jicaro seed. But, it’s just as tasty out of a glass or mug. During a daylong coffee and chocolate tour, I was lucky enough to make Pinolillo with a local family in the rural community of La Corona about an hour outside of Matagalpa. Maura, my 17 year old guide, walked us through the process:
– Toast dried cocoa beans (best done over an open fire!)
– Toast dried corn kernels, making sure to stop before they begin to POP. (You can use corn meal if you don’t have any dried corn lying around)
– After the cocoa beans have cooled, removed the shells
– Add the toasted cocoa beans and corn kernels into a grinder – use manual grinder to burn some extra calories – along with a quarter stick of cinnamon, a pinch of black pepper and a couple cloves.
– Grind the mixture…
– Then grind it again…
– Mix with milk and/or water and sugar and enjoy! It can even be served warm for the chilly winter nights.
This drink is fun and easy to make and the taste is unique but enjoyable. Experiment with your own pinolillo recipe adding nutmeg or maybe even a dash of chili powder, and become a true Pinolero!